Poor Boris Johnson had to do the daddy of all u-turns yesterday when his decision not to self-isolate after being pinged on the Covid app was met with anger. He’s now self-isolating and feeling a little embarrassed I would imagine. I’m not going to criticise him, I’ve made too many mistakes of my own as have we all, so let’s just note it and move on.
Being a Prime Minister doesn’t stop you from making mistakes, nor does being Chancellor of the Exchequer, chief Government Scientist or Advisor to the PM. It’s unfortunate that when you’re a high profile person every mistake is in the public domain and duly noted giving the press a field day. In Jesus’ time, he was carefully watched and any mistake he made would have been noted too, so it says something that no mistakes were ever recorded. Of course, you wouldn’t expect his followers to talk about his mistakes but others wrote about him too and they found no fault in him. Jesus ensured that he did what was right, even though you could say he didn’t need to at times. After all, he is the Son of God who didn’t need to be contained by human laws but as their originator he kept them. There are three specific instances id like to refer you to.
John the Baptist was a forerunner of Jesus who preached and expected people to be baptised to show how sorry they were for their sins. One day we read that “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.” Then John consented.” (1) Jesus didn’t need to be baptised because he had never sinned but he wanted to be seen to do what was right, and in a future date no one could ever point a finger at him and say ‘we were baptised, why weren’t you?’ Today, in a social media world, he wouldn’t have stood a chance against the gossips if he hadn’t been baptised. How many people have been appointed to jobs and then something in their past has been brought up and they lose the job? You have to be seen to do what is right and Jesus did that.
He was challenged about paying a tax towards the upkeep of the temple. We all dislike paying taxes even though they’re necessary and some people and organisations today are experts at tax avoidance. Not Jesus, he paid taxes that were due. Here’s where we read about it. “After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, … Jesus said to him. “But so that we may not cause offence, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” (2) How did that happen? Was it some kind of magic trick? Of course not, although there was the miraculous about it. We’re told that a sparrow doesn’t fall to the ground without God knowing about so he knew that a fish had swallowed a coin. Jesus, who is God himself, in constant communion with his Father was told this and knew where the fish was going to be. The miracle was in being the first fish Peter caught.
We then come to taxes in general. The Jews were expected to pay taxes to Caesar, their Roman oppressor, and they would have objected. “Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him …“Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (3)
Jesus always does what is right, and as his followers, Christians uphold the law. If Jesus was Prime Minister he would have self-isolated immediately even though he wouldn’t have to. The Son of God, perfect in every way, unaffected by sin and its consequences could never catch Covid. Now there’s a thought.
- Matt 3:13-15
- Matt 17:24-27
- Matt 22:15-21